Corporate Executives Discuss Future of Information Technology
Oct. 30, 2013
Kevin Christ (far right) moderated chief information officers Jeff Meier (from left), Baron Concors and Brian Bonner at the panel session “The IT Department of Tomorrow” at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
Local technology leaders say they are uncertain what corporate IT departments will look like in the future, but they advise IT professionals to take risks, cultivate innovation and move quickly to tackle tomorrow's challenges.
Brian Bonner, CIO of Texas Instruments, Baron Concors, CIO of Yum! Restaurants International, and Jeff Meier, senior vice president and CIO of Fujitsu Network Communications, shared their insights recently on “The IT Department of Tomorrow” at the Naveen Jindal School of Management (JSOM). The panel session, part of JSOM’s Information Systems Industry Advisory Board fall meeting, brought together about 60 people, including board members, faculty and students.
IT departments have evolved from service providers to value creators, said moderator Kevin Christ, senior director at Alvarez & Marsal. Traditionally, IT was just a service area of a firm, but the sector now plays a more key role in corporate strategy and decision-making.
Using a statement from Bonner a year ago – “We all have the same Legos; it’s about how you put them together to create value” – Christ asked the panelists how they have built their success stories.
“The secret for running an IT group that’s successful is how you put everything together and help achieve the company’s goals,” Bonner said. “If you look at the space program, it’s not a lot unlike our enterprise where you find and accomplish something that hasn’t been done before — whether it’s growing revenue, data market share and getting it to a new market and you really have to put together a mix of team members grounded in how technologies work.”
“The secret for running an IT group that’s successful is how you put everything together and help achieve the company's goals.”
Concors advised IT professionals to use technology to improve the customer experience and create a competitive advantage “and try to figure out how to be first.”
“It took our competition almost 18 months to develop something similar to our iPhone app for Pizza Hut,” Concors said. “In that time, we got over 3 million downloads. The iPhone app was wildly successful, and I think that’s the way all of us have to look at these new technologies.”
The panelists concurred that the pace of innovation has changed the way IT departments do business.
“We have a much tighter relationship between our business users and our group, so we’re able to move a lot more quickly than we did before,” Meier said. “It’s no longer a case of ‘Oh, we need this new tool, throw it over the wall, give it to IT and see what they come back with.’”
Technology is accelerating a shift in customer behavior and expectations, and experts who can understand consumers’ changing expectations and develop mobile applications in the future are going to be in high demand, said Concors.
When commercials for depositing checks with mobile devices first aired, Concors said he imagined “every financial services CEO running into the office the next day saying, ‘How soon are we going to have this?’”
“I, as a consumer, was like, ‘If my bank doesn’t have this soon, I’m switching banks,’” he said. “And that’s just the reality of what we’re dealing with today. If one of your competitors can figure out how to let someone more easily place an order than you do, that’s probably a risk to your business.”
For more information about the IS Advisory Board, please contact Kelly Slaughter, director of the Center for Information Technology and Management.